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Epidemiol Health. 2017;39(1):e2017034. English. Original Article.
Jeong S , Cho SI .
Graduate School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.


This study examined differences in health behaviors between elderly people living alone and with others; it also investigated whether the effect of living with others differs according to housemate type, namely a spouse and/or younger generations.


Gender-stratified data from the 2013 Korea Community Health Survey for individuals aged 60 to 74 living in Seoul were analyzed. Logistic regression modeling was conducted to obtain odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of the outcome variables (smoking, drinking, eating salty foods, inactive lifestyle) for the variables of interest (living alone/with others, housemate type). Models were adjusted for confounding variables including history of medical conditions, employment type, and adjusted household income.


Analysis involved 1,814 men and 2,199 women. Risk of smoking was 1.80 times (95% CI, 1.21 to 2.67) higher for men living alone than living with others. Risk of eating salty foods was 0.78 times lower (95% CI, 0.62 to 0.98) for men living with a spouse than a spouse and younger generations. Risk of inactive lifestyle was 1.47 times higher (95% CI, 1.13 to 1.92) for women living alone. Risk of smoking was higher for women living alone (OR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.03 to 1.92) or with younger generations (OR, 9.12; 95% CI, 2.04 to 40.80) than with a spouse and younger generations.


Living alone was associated with smoking in men and physical activity in women; housemate type was associated with dietary habits in men and smoking in women. These gender-specific findings can help identify groups of individuals vulnerable to risky health behaviors and to develop policies.

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